I always like it when industrial design students and recent grads send me renderings and descriptions of their bicycle related school projects. Not only is it interesting to see their concepts, but also those submissions make for pretty easy posts on my part (a good thing for busy Fridays like today). A couple weeks ago, James Breaux, a recent ID graduate of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, sent me his concept for a bicycle powered by a pneumatic system. In an effort to keep this post easy, I’ll let James explain the idea in his own words:
“The Concept: A pneumatic system that replaces the chain. With every crank of the pedals, compressed air is pushed through the chain stays, which then turns the rear wheel, similar to the cannonade jack knife concept. However, one main difference in my concept (other than the pneumatic/hydraulic difference) is that when the rider is coasting downhill the bike will store up air inside the main chamber of the frame through a flywheel system. This also acts as an air brake and the stored compressed air can be released while pedaling uphill as an added boost (not meant for long propulsions or to replace actually pedaling). The frame of the bike can be manufactured through a process called super forming, which is essentially vacuum forming metal that is heated to very high temperatures, the tubing of the bike can be made lighter and completely air tight.
Here are some stats that an engineering professor helped me come up with for the bike
– A 180lb person riding a 30lb bike can travel 50 meters at a 5% incline with the bike filled at 20psi working at a 25% efficiency rate
– It takes about an hour to fill 1.5 cubic feet of air at 50psi with a low voltage compress that is rated at 1000th of a horsepower
-A human can put out between a 10th to 1 horsepower. This means the frame could refill the air compression in 10-15 minutes through coasting or pedaling.”